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November trade rebound little comfort for Germany

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Germany's trade surplus grew in November, official figures showed Wednesday, but the technical increase offered little comfort for watchers of Europe's powerhouse economy.

[FRANKFURT] Germany's trade surplus grew in November, official figures showed Wednesday, but the technical increase offered little comfort for watchers of Europe's powerhouse economy.

The country exported some 19 billion euros (S$29.5 billion) more than it imported in the penultimate month of 2018, according to seasonally-adjusted figures provided by federal statistics authority Destatis.

While that was a 6.1 per cent increase over October's figure, the effect was primarily a technical one.

Exports fell 0.4 per cent month-on-month, to 116.3 billion euros on an unadjusted basis, while imports slid more sharply, dropping 1.6 per cent to 95.7 billion euros.

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In November 2017, the trade surplus was 22.3 billion euros.

Among European nations, Germany has been the target of the toughest rhetoric from US President Donald Trump as he set out to reduce America's trade deficit.

The Republican leader has so far held off levying swingeing tariffs on European car imports as he threatened to do after hitting some metals with new import taxes last year.

But there has been little sign of progress from trade talks between the US and European Union.

Germany alongside other European economies has suffered knock-on effects and uncertainty from Trump's bigger trade conflict with China, weakness in emerging markets and the growing risk of Britain quitting the EU without a deal.

"There simply seem to be too many crises in global trade for the German export sector to defy them," said ING Diba bank economist Carsten Brzeski.

The data reinforce the possibility that the country suffered a "technical recession" - two successive quarters of economic shrinkage - in the second half of 2017, he added.

"Still, private consumption, government expenditures and investments could prevent" such an effect, he added.

AFP